Chapter 11

Ætherglow #221


“Okay, what if...” you sign, but pause, frozen in indecision. “I had two ideas that might work equally well, is the thing.”

“Then let’s do both!” Akiko signs.

“I’m not so sure that’s possible,” you sign. “The two things most sure to breed rumors in this academy would be that I’m either fighting a duel, or going on a date.”

“Yeah, either of those would work well...” Akiko signs. “It doesn’t have to make sense, though, it just has to draw attention. We can spread both rumors. The conflicting nature of them will only make people more interested and talk about it more, don’t you think?”

“You’re the Communication expert here,” you sign. “Let’s do it, we’ll spread rumors that I’m going on a date, and that I’m fighting a duel. Then show up and...hopefully get ambushed and be in mortal peril.”

“Okay,” Synth signs. “One of those things is technically forbidden here, and the other has a certain decorum that needs to be followed to prevent this from becoming a whole corporate incident, since you’re both property of rival companies.”

You pull up the academy regulations to remind yourself. Taking a moment to compose yourself, you take a deep breath.

“...Akiko,” you sign her name, looking into her eyes that fluctuate in pulses from purple to pink. “Will you go out on a forbidden murder-bait ætherdate with me?” You reach out to her, and she quickly takes your hand and signs back.


“In that case...” Looking down away from her, you take your hand back and stand up, just as the shadow of night sweeps over you. “Akiko of AtaraChiba, in the name of Redshift Security, I, Aydan of Luna, challenge you to a technopath’s duel!”

Akiko stands up to meet you almost eye to eye. “In the name of DeepSpaceOps, I accept your challenge!”

Synth stands to face you both from the side. “As your senior and agent of Admin Crypta, I both pretend I didn’t hear that, and officially witness your challenge. It is the defender’s right to choose the battlefield.”

“I choose a duel in the æther,” Akiko signs.

“So shall it be,” Synth signs. “And the terms for victory?”

“If I win...” you sign. “What do you even ask for in a situation like this...”

“Technopath’s duels are binding contracts enforceable by the winner’s sponsor and their local Chamber of Commerce. Each combatant must declare their terms, and the winner’s terms must be followed, even superseding prior contractual obligations or corporate regulations,” Synth signs.

“If I win, you’ll come visit me on my homeworld during year-end break,” Akiko signs.

“If I win...”

1) “...come visit me on the Moon instead!”: 2 (40.0%)
2) “...renounce your contract and sign with Redshift Security!”: 0 (0.0%)
3) “...go on a date with me that isn’t a pretense for something!”: 3 (60.0%)
Expired 8 months ago (2023-07-23 09:35:21)